Development of cosmetic formulations based on hemicellulose from sugarcane bagasse

  • Raquel Alexandra Alves Pires (Student)

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Sugarcane bagasse is one of the major by-product of sugarcane industry and it is mainly composed by a lignocellulosic matrix, generally used to produce chemical products and as a raw material for processes such as energy production and derivatives. Xylan is a predominant linear polymer in the hemicellulose of sugarcane bagasse cell walls. Decreasing the polymerization degree, it is possible to increase the solubility of xylan which, due to its low molecular weight, makes it unsuitable for the production of hydrogels. Hydrogels are widely used in the cosmetic area and represent an excellent option for the incorporation of active cosmetic ingredients. However, xylan characteristics limits its application as a hydrogel, being necessary to make some changes in its matrix to improve its mechanical properties. Crosslinking is a method that help form stronger films and avoids the dissolution of the polymers in aqueous environment. The purpose of this work was the production of a hydrogel based on xylan from sugarcane bagasse, combining crosslinking techniques for cosmetic application, followed by its characterization. Epichlorohydrin and PEGDE crosslinked xylan hydrogels were developed using glycerol as a plasticizer. The FT-IR analysis showed that all hydrogels have the peak between 1040-1050 cm-1 which corresponds to the elongation of the C-O-C bond of xylan. In the xylan hydrogels with glycerol the epichlorohydrin peak was not detected, proven the efficiency of washing step in removing this toxic compound. All hydrogels proved to be non-cytotoxic in cell lines of human keratinocytes, with the highest level of inhibition being 1.83%, according to ISO 10993-5 standard. Rheology tests showed that the hardness is increased by the concentration of glycerol. The morphology of the gels was confirmed by SEM, since hydrogels with plasticizer had a more cohesive structure than those without plasticizer. The swelling test showed that hydrogel maximum water absorption occurred after 3 hours and lasted until 4 days without any degradation. Furthermore, when combined with a surfactant (Tween 40 and 80), hydrogels tend to have a high release capacity of active compounds like curcumin, BSA, resveratrol and hyaluronic acid, with maximum release after 2 hours (hydrogel with curcumin). In sum, hydrogels were successfully developed, showing excellent capacity of absorbing and releasing active compounds, showed good adhesiveness and mechanical properties, which are demanded by cosmetic industry area. However, further work is needed in order to improve the characteristics of the hydrogel and enable its commercialization.
Date of Award25 May 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Universidade Católica Portuguesa
SupervisorSílvia Pedrosa (Supervisor), Alessandra Braga Ribeiro (Co-Supervisor) & Ana Raquel Madureira (Co-Supervisor)


  • Xylan
  • Hydrogels
  • Sugarcane bagasse
  • Crosslinking
  • Product
  • Biocompatibility


  • Mestrado em Engenharia Biomédica

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